AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 WEEKS
For eight weeks I am curating a host of world coffees at Stone & Crow, starting in London. So far we started with Alchemy Coffee Roasters (available throughout the duration) featuring Nomad Coffee (Barcelona), Five Elephants (Berlin), Coffee Supreme Melbourne (Australia) and Coutume Coffee Roasters in Paris. Last weekend I just had something hot right out of the Czech Republic.
What a cool weekend it was, with so many customers from my old work places, owners of amazing restaurants and cafes, coffee roasters, baristas and general wicked people of Leytonstone came by. Mix that in with awesome coffee from Prague and I can get a little over-excited!
This weekend at Stone & Crow, I had DoubleShot, which is from Prague in the Czech Republic. It came about because I was asking a couple of friends in the coffee business who live in Europe, what’s hot and who is doing good things over that way. I had three notable people suggest DoubleShot so I just had to bring some to London and give it a whirl myself.
DoubleShot is owned by three people; Yara Tucek, Jarda Hrstka, and Kamilla Sotonova. Yara is responsible for buying the green coffee, quality control, managing baristas, marketing and wholesale; Jarda looks after the whole production side, and Kamila looks after the finance and human resources. Together they seem to make one great team! Jarda who does all the roasting, trained at 49th Parallel which is one of Vancouver’s most reputable roasteries.
Having some Czech baristas do very well in a range of world coffee competitions has also helped the region gain attention on an international level with Adam Neubauer finishing 10th in the WBC, one of DoubleShot’s baristas Ondrej Hurtik placed 2nd in World Coffee in Good Spirits and Petra Strelecka (former Prufrock barista) placed 6th in World Brewers Cup. Yara noted that the barista scene is pretty good there because they seem to be traveling abroad (London and Berlin) to work and then coming back with much more experience.
But when I asked Yara if there were any challenges, he seemed grateful to note that they had great timing when they started their business. There was no competition and the market was open to new information and a high quality product. One thing Yara said that I found interesting, was that people don’t drink a lot of coffee in Czech so there isn’t much high-volume coffee sold yet.
Even though they stock around 150 cafes in the Czech Republic, as well as their own three cafes, in the coming years, they want to see and help that grow and also make time to travel more outside of their base city, Prague and have more presence at origin. It always excites me when someone has found a relatively untapped, new market and has a chance to really have an impact on it for the better, in terms of coffee, education and café culture – because I think everyone should drink good coffee.
From what I can tell, the Czech coffee scene has grown enormously in the past few years, where there were only a few okay cafes, there are now quite a number in most districts. I spoke to my friend Gwylim Davies (2009 WBC champ) who is based in Prague about what is happening there and he seems very impressed with the progress, mentioning that it is a mix of local roasters and cafes using European micro roasters. He also said that even though there are still the big old school cafes that tourists like, it is the smaller more boutique cafes that are getting noticed by the industry, which is a big win for independents.
When I was looking at DoubleShot’s espresso offering, they had a blend (Costa Rican/Ethiopian) and a single origin espresso roast of Ethiopian Guji! I was nervous about using Ethiopian as a single origin for espresso – the reason being is that not many places use it because it can be very finicky to use for a barista. Obviously I had no doubt in my ability to get the best from it, but it can be sensitive to use, so baristas have to be quite attentive. I was really pleased with the outcome. I had the time to work with it, and it came out bright and fruity with zing! It wasn’t heavy but it had a nice finish and really tasty with milk.
I tried the El Salvador, Honduras and Ethiopian Kochere in a variety of filter methods and got some lovely flavors from it. My favourite being the El Salvador and Ethiopian Kochere. When discussing our morning brew (that has become a little bit of a ritual with Julian (from Stone & Crow), he described the El Salvador batch filter brew as an oaky chardonnay walnut whip!!
I’m really excited to use the engraved cupping spoon DoubleShot gave me as well as get over to Prague sometime soon and try their cafes out. Their newest cafe KAVÁRNA MÍSTO looks cool with super cute illustrations on the wall.
If you’re going to Prague, here is a great link that Gwilym sent me that breaks down well where you should go.